Thursday 29 September 2016

Coleman blow gives O'Neill cause for concern

Published 15/08/2016 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile

The sight of Seamus Coleman wearing a protective boot walking into Goodison Park on Saturday soured the first weekend of the Premier League season for Martin O'Neill.

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Coleman rose to the challenge of wearing the captain's armband during Euro 2016 but the odds are now against the Donegal man featuring in the opening World Cup qualifer with Serbia in three weeks.

The 27-year-old is suffering from an ankle injury and Ronald Koeman said that he expects the right back to be absent for 'several weeks.'

Ireland would be seriously hampered by Coleman's unavailability but he did miss the famous win over Germany last October with Derby's Cyrus Christie proving an able deputy. Christie was an unused squad member at the Euros.

Marc Wilson missed that tournament through injury but looks set for a new chapter in his career after Bournemouth agreed a fee with Stoke for the former Portsmouth defender.

The writing was on the wall for Wilson at Stoke when he publicly criticised Mark Hughes in the course of a social media discussion with supporters.

Wilson said the Potters had lost the ability to be a tight unit when they ceded possession and 'need to work on defensive shape a few days a week.'

Unsurprisingly Hughes was miffed: "It's fair to say that Marc feels his future lies elsewhere and it's fair to say I probably agree with him."

Claim

He started O'Neill's competitive tenure as first choice next to John O'Shea and will view the new campaign as a chance to stake his claim again.

Shane Duffy is banned for the Belgrade trip, although he's enduring a tough time right now, scoring an own goal for Blackburn as they shipped three in a heavy loss at Wigan.

The form Irish centre half at the moment is Brentford's summer recruit John Egan who ventured forward to notch a crucial brace against Mick McCarthy's Ipswich. Egan, the son of Kerry GAA great John, has steadily rebuilt his career following a horrific run of luck at Sunderland.

Meanwhile, it was a grim weekend for Dundalk's Champions League opponents Legia Warsaw who warmed up for their Dublin trip by losing to bottom side Gornik Leczna.

Dundalk have also suffered since qualifying for the play-off round with rivals Cork City missing opportunities to close the gap. They have lost second place to Derry ahead of their meeting at the Brandywell tonight although the Leesiders do have three matches in hand.

At the other end of the table, Longford parted company with Tony Cousins over the weekend with caretaker Gary Cronin in charge for the visit of St Patrick's Athletic.

Irish Independent

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